Exeter City keep offering Jake Richards better contracts

Exeter City have offered teenage sensation Jake Richards several professional contracts to sign when he turns 17. The 16-year-old made 12 appearances for the Grecians last season, including six in League One.

Of those 12 appearances, seven were starts as the teenager impressed in the centre of midfield. He looks to be next on the long list of academy graduates who have come through the ranks at St James Park.

While Richards is not yet able to sign a professional contract, City manager Gary Caldwell has confirmed Exeter have offered him a deal which he can put pen to paper on when he turns 17. But they keep having to revise the offer as he keeps impressing more and more and is deserving of better terms.

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“Jake is still a scholar and as he is so young we can’t yet sign him on a professional contract,” Caldwell said. “We have offered him two or three now as he keeps doing so well we are putting different contract offers to him and when he is 17 he can sign that contract and extend his stay at the club.

“He has been a huge success this year, they aren’t many 16-year-olds that play anywhere in football, never mind in League One. So, for him to have started so many games in League One shows the talent and potential he has, so hopefully when that contract gets put in front of him he signs it and stays here."

Another City youngster who has signed a new deal with the club is Tom Dean. The 18-year-old, who made one appearance in the red and white last season, as well as spending time out on loan at Tavistock. He also impressed and captained the City U18s team, where he scored 22 goals from midfield.

“Tom has a big summer ahead of him,” Caldwell added. “We spoke to all the younger players and told them how much the off-season will help them when they come back and how important it is that they work hard and keep their fitness up.

“Tom is coming into an environment that will really shock him and I think last year we found a lot of the younger players struggled in pre-season as they weren’t aware what was coming.

“Tom is a naturally fit lad and every time he comes with the first team his attitude and enthusiasm has been brilliant – he will need this, this summer and hopefully we can support him to develop and get better and be in the first team like Sonny Cox and other young players have this season.”

Two youngsters though who will be leaving Exeter this summer are Harrison King and Joe O’Connor. Defender King made two appearances in the EFL Trophy for City in the 2022/23 season, but was hit by injuries this campaign. Midfielder O’Connor also made two appearances for City in the EFL Trophy.

“For young players who haven’t had first team experience it’s even more difficult to forge a way in their career and it’s really difficult to let those young players go as they were giving everything,” Caldwell said. “But it wasn’t to be here, we will support them and give them everything they need so they are fit in the summer and ready to go to a new club and restart their careers.”

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